Tree Hugger

I don’t know if everyone can say they have a favorite tree, but mine happens to be one that bridges the river-wide gap between my home state and the one I’ve lived in my entire adult life. Ironically, my favorite tree sounds just like rushing water when the wind blows through its leaves. I don’t know how this can even be possible, but the swirling air combined with their jaggedly-edged, triangle shape somehow transforms the giant boughed limbs of my beloved cottonwoods into a natural symphony worthy of any sound machine’s playlist, a sound I wish very much that I could have near me each night as I drift off to sleep.

Sadly I have no cottonwoods in my own yard to help me do so and I remember no cottonwoods on my parent’s farm growing up either. I do, however, recall an enormous one at my grandparent’s place, just eight country miles southeast of us. It got hit by lightning or wind, as they so often do, and was split down the middle, but I still remember the sound of those musical leaves and the large rough bark of its massive-to-me trunk during my futile, youth-driven attempts to climb it.

Our family farms were just north a ways from the Missouri River, which is where I remember the most concentrated collection of cottonwoods being, spaced throughout the state parks that line the South Dakota side of the Muddy Mo, shedding their floating fuzz each spring and summer, making a mess of the playgrounds and beaches (and probably the boats, too, but we were never on one of those). Our favorite place to get ice cream after a long day in the sun (and play mini golf) was even called The Cottonwood Corral, so clearly I’m not the only Yankton-ite to take note of their abundance in the area.

Those same trees in those same state parks watched over me as a teenage runner when our cross country team hosted our meets beneath their shade. I can’t say I paid as much attention to them then, but now any time I am in their company, I smile and think of those many hours spent near them in my childhood. Several line the park not too from my current home, but they, too, have been hit hard in recent years by storms which makes my heart ache every time one is partially damaged or, worse, lost.

In an ideal world, I’d have an acreage where I could both see the sky far better than I can currently from town and where I could plant all the trees I desire. I realize this would someday erase my lovely sky view, but if I was surrounded by my water-burbling cottonwoods, I might just call that a fair trade.

Post 20/52.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s